8 Things You Might Not Know About Drew Carey

Neilson Barnard, Getty Images
Neilson Barnard, Getty Images

For the past decade, actor and comedian Drew Carey has been emceeing the long-running daytime game show The Price is Right, proving himself an able replacement for tenured former host Bob Barker. (Carey even echoes his predecessor’s plea to spay and neuter pets at the end of every episode.) Prior to that, the 60-year-old had two hugely successful series, including a self-titled sitcom and the improvisational Whose Line Is It Anyway? Take a look at some things you might not have realized about the glasses-sporting comic. (Like the fact that he doesn’t really need to wear them.)

1. HE CREDITS SELF-HELP BOOKS WITH HIS SUCCESS.

Carey’s Cleveland upbringing was not particularly joy-filled. His father died when Carey was just 8, succumbing to a brain tumor. His mother worked two jobs to support her three sons and couldn’t afford to take Carey to see a psychiatrist to help deal with the trauma. Feeling isolated and depressed for much of his adolescence, things didn’t improve when he attended Kent State University: He was expelled twice for poor grades.

At rock bottom, Carey started reading self-help titles like University of Success and Your Erroneous Zones. The books changed Carey’s way of thinking, getting him out of his frustrated mindset. He later moved to California, joined the Marine Reserves, and began eyeing a career in stand-up comedy.

2. JOHNNY CARSON LAUNCHED HIS CAREER.

Drew Carey is photographed during a 'Tonight Show' appearance
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

While writing jokes for a friend who worked in radio—Carey again turned to books, taking out a joke-writing title from a local library—he began honing a stand-up act. Attending an open-mic night at the Sahara in Las Vegas didn’t go well (he bombed), but after putting in years of practice, Carey got two breaks. The first was Star Search, a talent competition hosted by Tonight Show sidekick Ed McMahon, and the second was the Tonight Show itself. In 1991, Carey was invited to perform and appeared to win over Johnny Carson, a move that caught the attention of television executives eager to find another stand-up to build a sitcom around. The Drew Carey Show debuted in 1995 and ran for nine seasons.

3. HE DOESN’T REALLY NEED THE GLASSES.

Wearing black horn-rimmed glasses for the first half of his career helped make Carey an identifiable presence on television. In 2001, when he got LASIK to correct his vision, he no longer needed them to see. But because his persona was so closely intertwined with spectacles, Carey continued wearing the frames—this time with clear lenses—for work. When he opts to go without them, he finds that fans can be oblivious to the fact they’re talking to him. Conversing with a small group in a Cleveland night club one year, Carey told them he was on television and host of The Price is Right. “I thought Drew Carey hosted The Price is Right,” one replied.

4. HE UPSET A&W OVER A FAST-FOOD INFRACTION.

A drive-thru sign is positioned at a fast food restaurant
iStock

After signing a deal in 1998 to endorse the A&W burger chain, Carey found himself in trouble over his sitcom character’s preference for McDonald’s. In November of that year, an episode of The Drew Carey Show featured Carey lost in China and wandering into a Golden Arches location for a meal. A&W took offense and refused to pay the remainder of the comic’s endorsement fee. They also insisted he return the $450,000 already remitted to him. “I didn't eat at the McDonald's on the show,” Carey told Esquire in 2007. “I grabbed a fry off a kid's plate, but I didn't get any of the food. When I was in China, I ate at A&W almost every day. There was one around the corner from where we were staying. I like the company. I thought we had a good relationship.”

5. HE’S SHOT SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY UNDER AN ALIAS.

Carey is part owner of the Seattle Sounders soccer team, but his involvement is more than just financial. Carey has been field-side to shoot action photography of the team and has distributed them to wire services under the pseudonym Brooks Parkenridge. “If I wasn't a comic or TV star, my other dream job was to be a photojournalist,” he told Sports Illustrated in 2005. “I envy [photographer] Carolyn Cole from the L.A. Times, and when I see Christiane Amanpour on TV, I think, ‘Man, wouldn't it be great to be her cameraman and be at these cool places where history is changing.’ Plus, being a celebrity, you always get good seats to sporting events, but you never get seats as good as the photographers get.”

6. HE ENTERED THE ROYAL RUMBLE.

The annual WWE wrestling event Royal Rumble admits one wrestler in timed intervals until 30 grapplers have entered the squared circle. While this contest is normally a playing field for mammoth participants like the Undertaker or John Cena, Carey found himself involved in 2001. Staging a sketch in which he raised the ire of WWE owner Vince McMahon, Carey cheerfully agreed to enter as the sixth man in and the first celebrity in the show. Instead of being allowed to walk off, he was confronted by Kane and nearly choke-slammed before another wrestler intervened. The comic went on to occupy a spot in the promotion’s Hall of Fame.

7. HE FOUGHT A DANCING BAN IN ARIZONA.

In a bizarre Footloose scenario, Carey came to the defense of an Arizona steakhouse in 2008 after local officials were targeting the open-air restaurant San Tan Flat for allowing dancing outdoors, a possible violation of an outdated noise ordinance. Carey dispatched a film crew to interview the owners as part of his Reason.tv series examining individual rights. A judge subsequently ruled that the establishment was not an illegal dance hall.

8. HE LOST NEARLY 100 POUNDS.

Drew Carey is photographed while on stage
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Known for his generously-proportioned physique, Carey had struggled with type-2 diabetes and heart problems as a result of the excess weight. He underwent a coronary angioplasty in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he decided to get fit for his son, Connor, who was born in 2007. Carey cut out soft drinks and switched to healthier options, replacing steak and bread with chicken and vegetables. Coupled with running, he shed roughly 85 pounds. “I was at a wedding on Saturday, and I ate cake,” he told Success in 2015. “I’m not a maniac about it. But 95 percent of the time, I’m right on the money.”

Jim Henson's Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Is Returning to Theaters

The Jim Henson Company via Fathom Events
The Jim Henson Company via Fathom Events

For anyone who grew up with HBO in the 1980s, the holiday season meant two things: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas and The Bells of Fraggle Rock. Though the beloved Jim Henson classics have been largely confined to home video-only screenings over the years, they’re making their way back to the big screen for the first time via Fathom Events when the Jim Henson Holiday Special arrives in theaters nationwide for a limited, two-day engagement.

More than 600 theaters across the country will host screenings of the Jim Henson Holiday Special on Monday, December 10 (4 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and Sunday, December 16 (1 p.m. and 4 p.m.), which will pair the two specials—both of which have recently been remastered—alongside an all-new featurette, Memories of the Jug-Band.

"Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas was a favorite project for my dad since it included such sweet characters, Paul Williams’s delightful music, and a timeless holiday message,” Cheryl Henson—Jim Henson’s daughter and president of the Jim Henson Foundation—said in a statement about the special, which is a music-filled twist on The Gift of the Magi.

“Also, the special was a great opportunity for him to experiment with puppetry techniques and effects that would be seen in his later works," Henson continued. "[It] is exciting for families to share this holiday classic along with the special episode The Bells of Fraggle Rock, a rare opportunity to see the Fraggles on the big screen, and to introduce these beloved characters to a whole new audience."

On December 18, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on Blu-ray for the first time ever so that you can make the special a permanent part of your regular holiday movie marathon. This news comes on the heels of Emmet Otter's first-ever official soundtrack release, more than 40 years after its original premiere.

Click here to find out the Jim Henson Holiday Special is playing near you, and to pre-order your tickets today.

10 Filling Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Though it may not be as widely known as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been a beloved holiday tradition for many families for 45 years now. Even if you've seen it 100 times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this Turkey Day special.

1. IT’S THE FIRST PEANUTS SPECIAL TO FEATURE AN ADULT VOICE.

We all know the trombone “wah wah wah” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when speaking in a Peanuts special. But A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was released in 1973, made history as the first Peanuts special to feature a real, live, human adult voice. But it’s not a speaking voice—it’s heard in the song “Little Birdie.”

2. IT WASN’T JUST ANY ADULT WHO LENT HIS VOICE TO THE SPECIAL.

Being the first adult to lend his or her voice to a Peanuts special was kind of a big deal, so it makes sense that the honor wasn’t bestowed on just any old singer or voice actor. The song was performed by composer Vince Guaraldi, whose memorable compositions have become synonymous with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang.

“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the Emmy-winning producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials—including A Charlie Brown Thanksgivingwrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in A Charlie Brown Christmas, set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit."

3. DESPITE THE VOICE, THERE ARE NO ADULTS FEATURED IN THE SPECIAL.

While Peanuts specials are largely populated by children, there’s usually at least an adult or two seen or heard somewhere. That’s not the case with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special (live or animated) that does not include adults,” Mendelson wrote for HuffPo. “Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. (Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.)”

4. LUCY IS MOSTLY M.I.A., TOO.

Though early on in the special, viewers get that staple scene of Lucy pulling a football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, that’s all we see of Chuck’s quasi-nemesis in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (Lucy's brother Linus, however, is a main character.)

5. CHARLIE BROWN AND LUCY STILL KEEP IN TOUCH.

Though they only had a single scene together, Todd Barbee, who voiced Charlie Brown, told Noblemania that he and Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy in the Thanksgiving special, still keep in touch. “We actually went to high school together,” Barbee said. “We still live in Marin County, are Facebook friends, and occasionally see each other.”

6. CHARLIE BROWN HAD SOME TROUBLE WITH HIS SIGNATURE “AAARRRGGH.”

One unique aspect of the Peanuts specials is that the bulk of the characters are voiced by real kids. In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 10-year-old newcomer Todd Barbee was tasked with giving a voice to Charlie Brown—and it wasn’t always easy.

“One time they wanted me to voice that ‘AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG’ when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football and Lucy yanks it away,” Barbee recalled to Noblemania in 2014. “Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate [it as] long [as] they were looking for … so after something like 25 takes, we moved on. I was sweating the whole time. I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take."

7. LINUS STILL GETS AN ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE.

While Barbee got a crash course in the downside of celebrity at a very early age—“seeing my name printed in TV Guide made everyone around me go bananas … everybody … just thought I was some big movie star or something,” he told Noblemania—Stephen Shea, who voiced Linus, still gets a pretty big reaction.

"I don't walk around saying 'I'm the voice of Linus,'" Shea told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "But when people find out one way or another, they scream 'I love Linus. That is my favorite character!'"

8. THANKS TO LINUS, THE THANKSGIVING SPECIAL GOT A SPINOFF.

As is often the case in a Peanuts special, Linus gets to play the role of philosopher in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and remind his friends (and the viewers) about the history and true meaning of the holiday. His speech about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving eventually led to This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, a kind of spinoff adapted from that Thanksgiving Day prayer, which sees the Peanuts gang becoming a part of history.

9. LEE MENDELSON HAD AN ISSUE WITH BIRD CANNIBALISM.

In writing for HuffPo for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s 40th anniversary, Mendelson admitted that one particular scene in the special led to “a rare, minor dispute during the creation of the show. Mr. Schulz insisted that Woodstock join Snoopy in carving and eating a turkey. For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”

10. MENDELSON EVENTUALLY GOT HIS WAY ... THOUGH NOT FOR LONG.

Though Mendelson lost his original argument against seeing Woodstock eating another bird, he was eventually able to right that wrong. “Years later, when CBS cut the show from its original 25 minutes to 22 minutes, I sneakily edited out the scene of Woodstock eating,” he wrote. “But when we moved to ABC in 2001, the network (happily) elected to restore all the holiday shows to the original 25 minutes, so I finally have given up.”

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